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Zombie Makers
Cover of Zombie Makers
Zombie Makers
True Stories of Nature's Undead
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Are zombies real? As far as we know, dead people do not come back to life and start walking around, looking for trouble. But there are things that can take over the bodies and brains of innocent creatures, turning them into senseless slaves. Meet nature's zombie makers—including a fly-enslaving fungus, a suicide worm, and a cockroach-taming wasp—and their victims.

Are zombies real? As far as we know, dead people do not come back to life and start walking around, looking for trouble. But there are things that can take over the bodies and brains of innocent creatures, turning them into senseless slaves. Meet nature's zombie makers—including a fly-enslaving fungus, a suicide worm, and a cockroach-taming wasp—and their victims.

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    always available
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Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.3
  • Lexile:
    800
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    3 - 4

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • Rebecca L. Johnson has written dozens of national award-winning books that highlight why science is such an exciting endeavor: there are no shortages of new species, remarkable adaptations, and fresh insights into life on earth. She believes that scientists have the world's best jobs, and has been fortunate to work with many of them in far-flung corners of the planet, including Antarctica's frozen interior and the ocean's abyss.

    "Through my writing, I hope to show young people that the world is full of wonders, and that science is the path that leads to them."

Reviews-
  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from October 1, 2012

    Gr 5-8-Ratchet up your ick-factor and practice your eeyuw's because Johnson's researched text will reveal enough details to cause squeamish (or highly imaginative) readers to quail. Hairworms that cause crickets to commit suicide; jewel wasps that turn cockroaches into walking pantries for their larvae; and a fungus that drives its ant host to find the perfect launch for its sporing body are just a few of the "zombie-makers" Johnson introduces. The readable text is based on telephone calls and emails with scientists in the field as well as the published articles listed in the bibliography. The author is careful to include a "Science Behind the Story" explanation for each of the featured parasites, quoting the research scientist whenever possible. Color photos reinforce the ickiness, as do splotches of red, green, and black creeping across the pages like patches of mold. Readers needing a more personal jolt may prefer Nicola Davies's more gentle (but still nicely gross) What's Eating You?: Parasites-The Inside Story (Candlewick, 2007) or Brian Ward's more prosaic Microscopic Life in the Home (Smart Apple Media, 2004). Scientific in its approach, this slender book gives children a look at scientific research in real time, and also shows how little we truly know in a less-than-lovely field.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

    Copyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from September 1, 2012
    Solid (sometimes writhing) proof that the scariest zombie flicks have nothing on Nature. To demonstrate that there are indeed real zombies--"closer than you think"--Johnson (Journey into the Deep, 2010; iPad app, 2011) introduces a select set of fungi, worms, viruses and wasps that invade the bodies and take over the brains of their victims. Enhanced by large and often deliciously disturbing color photos, her descriptions of each parasite's life cycle is both specific and astonishing; not only does the fungus O. unilateralis force a carpenter ant to clamp itself to a leaf (before sending a long reproductive stalk out of its head) for instance, it even somehow strengthens the ant's mouth muscles. The author tracks similarly focused physical and behavioral changes not just in insects, but in other creatures too, including rabies-infected mammals. Lest human readers feel left out of the picture, she mentions the protozoan T. gondii, which causes rats to engage in reckless behavior and also has infected up to a quarter of all the adults and teens in this country. In each chapter, Johnson reports back on conversations with scientists engaged in relevant research, and she closes with a quick look at telling signs in the fossil record. Science writing at its grossest and best, though as the title (not to mention the blood-spattered pages) warns, not for the squeamish. (author's note, glossary, notes, bibliography, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    "Ratchet up your ick-factor and practice your eeyuw's because Johnson's researched text will reveal enough details to cause squeamish (or highly imaginative) readers to quail. Hairworms that cause crickets to commit suicide; jewel wasps that turn cockroaches into walking pantries for their larvae; and a fungus that drives its ant host to find the perfect launch for its sporing body are just a few of the 'zombie-makers' Johnson introduces. The readable text is based on telephone calls and emails with scientists in the field as well as the published articles listed in the bibliography. The author is careful to include a 'Science Behind the Story' explanation for each of the featured parasites, quoting the research scientist whenever possible. Color photos reinforce the ickiness, as do splotches of red, green, and black creeping across the pages like patches of mold. Readers needing a more personal jolt may prefer Nicola Davies's more gentle (but still nicely gross) What's Eating You?: Parasite—The Inside Story (Candlewick, 2007) or Brian Ward's more prosaic Microscopic Life in the Home (Smart Apple Media, 2004). Scientific in its approach, this slender book gives children a look at scientific research in real time, and also shows how little we truly know in a less-than-lovely field." —starred, School Library Journal

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    Lerner Publishing Group
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True Stories of Nature's Undead
Rebecca L. Johnson
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